Labor candidate weighs in on voluntary assisted dying debate
AS DEBATE continues on whether voluntary assisted dying (VAD) should be legalised in Queensland, the local Labor candidate has shared his own beliefs on the topic.
After Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Queensland Law Reform Commission would prepare a draft legislation for VAD and deliver it to the attorney-general by March next year, frustration over further delays ensued, with concerns raised that parties were turning the topic into an election issue.
Dying With Dignity (DWD) Bundaberg state secretary Phyllis Wagner said after witnessing the tremendous pain her former husband and friends went through, she didn't want others to suffer to the same extent or for their loved ones to be forced to watch on helplessly.
She said suicide rates were also high, with many people left in so much agony that they feel their only option to make it stop is to try and take their own life.
"My former husband died a terrible death and I believe in an afterlife and I'm sure he is going to be mad with me for it," Ms Wagner said.
"I just think it's so cruel … I don't want anymore people to have to go through all that pain and I wouldn't even wish it on my worst enemy.
"My former husband isn't here now but I want to be able to honour him by doing this work and make it so people don't have to go through the same thing he went through."
Ms Wagner said if VAD was legalised in Queensland, individuals could change their mind at any time, but at least the choice of their own fate would be theirs to make.
Labor candidate for Bundaberg Tom Smith believes there is light at the end of the tunnel and hosted a meeting with local supporters of DWD on Tuesday.
He said he was confident Labor would deliver the compassionate piece of legislation needed for those facing a challenging and agonising end of life and felt the Palaszczuk Government made the right decision in referring legislation to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
"I am committed to being a strong voice for Bundaberg to ensure that the VAD legislation is passed in Queensland," Mr Smith said.
"The legislation is about caring for people and helping to ease the pain of intolerable suffering caused by a terminal illness and I will always put the wellbeing of people first."
Mr Smith who said he has always been passionate about VAD being legalised in Queensland, suffered his own personal tragedy last year.
"My family lost a very close loved one and his passing was very difficult to accept for all of us and it became distressing for him at times and over the course of his final week," Mr Smith said.
"This experience reaffirmed my support for the members of DWDQ."
The Labor candidate for Bundaberg said he hosted the meeting with Bundaberg members and supporters of DWD to hear first-hand how they were feeling and to exchange their own experiences.
"VAD is a very personal issue for many families and an important issue to the Bundaberg community," Mr Smith said.
"Meeting with members of DWD was important to answer their questions on where I stand in supporting VAD and to listen to their personal stories and shared experiences as well."
State Member for Bundaberg David Batt said while there is no way anyone can pre-empt what any future legislation may or may not contain, he encouraged Bundaberg residents to have their say.
"Just a few weeks ago I distributed my 'Batt's Biggest Bundy Community Survey' which specifically seeks the views of local residents regarding many issues such as VAD and funding for palliative and aged care, as well as a number of other topics ranging from education and cost of living to environment and transport," Mr Batt said.
"The survey was delivered to every letterbox in the Bundaberg electorate, with additional copies also available at my office and online and I encourage everyone to fill it in and have their say.
"'As always, if any Bundaberg residents would like to speak to me about any State Government matters, I am happy to listen and act."
The Bundaberg MP said when the VAD bill is introduced, the views of his constituency would form the basis of his vote, as it did when the Termination of Pregnancy Bill was introduced in October 2018.
"The Queensland Labor Government postponed the introduction of any future VAD legislation until at least March 1 next year, well and truly after the next State election in October," Mr Batt said.
"It is my role to represent the views of our community in Queensland Parliament, which is why I always have and always will encourage the people of Bundaberg to share their views with me, regardless of what matter it relates to."
Ms Wagner said she will continue speaking with local MPs, working on legal documentation and arranging an alternative way for members to meet in light of COVID-19.
To keep up to date, visit dwdq.org.au.
If you know someone who is struggling, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.